GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

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As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

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Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From 2nd Cup: A MARTHA STEWART CHRISTMAS PLANNING LIST – 12/13/18

A MARTHA STEWART HOLIDAY PLANNING LIST

December 1Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey. Spray paint gold, turn upside down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas cards.

December 2Have Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir record outgoing Christmas message for voicemail.

December 3Using candlewick and hand-gilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o-nine-tails.

December 4Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru, with mocha trim.

December 5Get new eyeglasses. Grind lenses yourself.

December 6Email family Christmas newsletter final edit to Pulitzer committee for consideration.

December 7Debug Windows.  Again.

December 10Align carpets to adjust for curvature of Earth.

December 11 – Create original Faberge egg.

December 12Take dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

December 13Collect dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

December 14Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

December 15Replace air in mini-van tires with Glade “Holiday Scents” in case tires are shot out at mall.

December 17Cat-proof the Christmas tree with razor wire garland as way of remembering deployed troops.

December 19Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

December 20Dip sheep and cattle in egg white, roll in confectioner’s sugar, then in crystal candy to add a festive sparkle to the pasture.

December 21Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks.

December 22Float colored, scented votive candles in toilet tank while playing Smooth Jazz Christmas in restrooms.

December 23Seed clouds overhead for white Christmas.

December 24Do annual good deed. Go to several stores, mixing Dillard’s with Walmart. Be seen engaged in last minute Christmas shopping, thus making many people feel less inadequate than they really are.

December 25 – Choose and mercilessly spoil friend’s newborn son. Swaddle. Lay in color-coordinated manger scented with homemade potpourri.

December 26Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.  Color-coordinate where possible.

December 27Build snowmen in likeness of angels.  Fill yard.  Overflow into neighbor’s yards.  Spread the joy.

December 31New Year’s Eve! Give staff their resolutions. Call a friend in each time zone of the world as the clock strikes midnight in that country.  They’ll be up.

~~borrowed from mikeysfunnies.com; adapted.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2018

 

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/30/18: “WHAT? SAY THAT AGAIN?”

KIDS SAY THE FUNNIEST THINGS

 

“Close the curtains,” requested a tot, sitting in a pool of bright light. “The sun’s looking at me too hard.”

Someone asked a youngster when he would turn 6. He replied, “When I’m tired of being 5.”

Seeing her first hailstorm, a 3-year-old exclaimed, “Mommy!  It’s raining dumplings!”

As her gramma frantically waved away a pesky fly with a white dishtowel, the granddaughter observed, “Maybe he thinks you’re surrendering.”

When a child heard that her aunt just had a baby and it looked like her uncle, she said, “You mean he gots a mutstache?”

While shampooing her son, 4, the mom noted his hair was growing so fast he’d soon need it cut. He replied, “Maybe we shouldn’t water it so much.”

When complimented on her vocabulary, the 5-year-old nonchalantly responded, “I have words in my head I haven’t even used yet.”

His mom informed Brian that she was going outside to get a little sun. “But Mommy,” he gulped, “You already have a little son — me!”

When a boy reported two look-alike classmates at school, his parents said they were probably twins. The next day, he came home all bubbly and said, “Guess what? They’re not only twins, they’re brothers!”

These aren’t original with me.  Feel free to share them in good fun.

Dan

 

 

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/22/2018: I’LL HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF JOY

Joy’s a stubborn thing.

It will go on eyeing God and believing for His best even when happiness has long since made tracks.

I meant to write this Thanksgiving 2nd Cup two weeks ago.  I’d been mulling over what to include, what to leave untyped, and what to ignore altogether.  Then a flu virus struck.  I manned up and spent five days trying to ‘doctor’ myself while carrying on with normal household duties, as well as the manly-man upkeeping types of stuff.

It was finally time to see the doctor.  I’ve virtually no autoimmune system left.  That means colds or flu, etc. don’t just strike me.  I get seriously mugged.  Both my ER doc friend I saw Saturday and the sharp intern I followed up with on Monday agreed in what they suggested.  They gave me an antibiotic regimen – in liquid, for me – and suggested OTC Benadryl for what seemed a possible allergic reaction to it.  Again.

Happy?  Not exactly.  Joy-filled?  Yes–by choice!

With Benadryl on board at bedtime, my body was up this morning before I was.  Some of you know what I mean.  It can be comical and magnificently embarrassing at the same time.

From whence, then, derives my joy?

  • I am not merely still here; I’m massively so.  No, I don’t look imposing or snappish.  That’s tough to pull off with Benadryl gazing half-lidded at my entire system, nodding slowly and being like, “Duuuude . . .”  Though I may be functioning in stand-by mode for a few more hours today, I’m joy-full because I’m here.
  • I’m able to breathe.  Born to a 43-year-old mom, I had pulmonary issues, as one of my lungs collapsed at or before birth.  Because of the weakness, I had asthma from birth until I was 10 or 11.  God’s blessed me with strong lungs since that time, yet whenever a virus does get through my defenses, it really grabs on.  Even with all the normal phlegm/sputum junk that goes with kicking a virus, I’ve been able to breathe deep and free for, let’s see– Average adult respirations are at 21,600 per day.  Do the math.  God’s lavished on me multiplied millions of breaths since 1997 I never believed I’d have.
  • I felt well enough to tackle pre-company chores yesterday morning.  And I actually got things upstairs spiffed up so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed having everyone gather in for this afternoon’s wonderful meal.  It’s easy for me to overextend, meaning I expect to get way more done than my chronic fatigue will allow.  It’s frustrating, even discouraging if I allow it.  I work at now allowing it.

And finally?

  • I am most grateful for all those things God could have allowed to occur in or around me that never happened.  I’ll not know anything about any of them unless that’s part of what Heaven’s screening room is about.  Otherwise, I doubt it’ll matter then.  Truth is, everyone has challenges.  You.  Me.  All of us.  We each learn how to cope, how to incorporate all that into our ‘Now’.  I’ve stared right at mine long enough to know how incredibly blessed I am to live, let alone to keep trying to use and perfect what God’s left me.  Knowing the nature of my known challenges, I can only surmise how many are those of which I know – may never know – about.

So, once again, The Boone clan will crowd around a table lovingly prepared and loaded down with far more than we would ever need.  We will take each others’ hands and sing GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS by way of blessing the food and our enjoyment of it together.  Next will follow the usual raucous, fun time of table games.  We will thus celebrate together in mutual, joyful praise and gratitude to God for yet another year of living.

May this find you and yours doing the same.  If so, our joy will be even more complete.

© D. Dean Boone, November 22, 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Granger Story – 2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/3/18: THE GRANGER EFFECT ~ Ch. 2

2

I sat sipping some great Ruta Maya medium roast and reflecting on the call I just got from Sparks.

Reporters in my experience are pretty much the same: one of two kinds.  Either they’re basically lazy and spend most of their time copying others’ work while adding their byline, or they’re part of a vanishing breed:  well-read cynics who’d never intentionally plagiarize on a bet; who do their own digging, and write as much from their own heart and instincts as they do from ‘just the facts, ma’am.’

I’d known Glennis Witherspoon for ten or eleven years.  She was one of the latter.

That was what gave me the willies at her request to interview me.  Pondering never got me into any trouble.  I decided to ponder a bit longer.  It didn’t hurt that I had stopped at a new place that just opened, Dough See Dough, on the way in and bought four Boston crèmes.  Pondering always goes better with Boston crèmes and fresh java.

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Leaning back, I swallowed another mouthful of coffee, munched an oozy bite of delicious pastry, and eyed the stuffed, mounted Great Horned Owl somebody’d left mounted on my office wall when they moved out.  Whoever had done the taxidermy was a master; I’ve seen these beautiful birds in the trees once or twice, and this specimen’s black/white/gray/brown/tan plumage had been expertly touched up until the bird seemed alive.  I always expected to see the old boy slowly blink and turn his head.

He didn’t.  He just sat perched quietly on the piece of sealed tree branch and stared back at me.  Lotta help you are, bird.  Arlough, whose mind often reminds me of a hummingbird’s sudden flitting, once asked me how I knew it was a male.  I was busy doing something else and just answered the first thing that popped into my mind:  “Because if it was a female, they’d never have caught it with its mouth closed.”  Cracked him up, and after we both stopped snarfling, we agreed it was the best possible answer.  We also agreed we’d keep that answer pretty much between us.

I was troubled.  Glennis Witherspoon wasn’t someone I considered a pal, but we’d been at least professionally friendly for most of the time since we first met.  We didn’t travel in the same social circles.

Mine has always been fairly small and tight.  I know and am friends with many, yet am disinclined to spend hours each week attending this or that social function merely to be seen.  Worship and church activities, and the occasional concert or movie, and I’m fine.

But I’m no hermit.  Glennis has always known where – or at least how – to find me at any point.

So why now?  I knew she prided herself on always knowing a little more than anyone else.  I knew she’d built her reputation on being forthright and to the point without being brutal.  I knew I needed another Boston crème.

Okay, ‘needed’ might be stretching matters.  I did enjoy it, though.  Sitting for another few seconds, I realized I’d been just delaying getting back to her.  If I didn’t, it would only pique her interest.  I’d always been taught piquing is wrong.

“Eagle Online, this is Glennis.”

I told her who I was.  “Can you help me understand why you’d have any interest in interviewing me?  That has to rate right up there with watching a snail clean the inside of an aquarium.”  Lighthearted and carefree.  That’s me.  Just friendly, smiling old Granger.

If she was smiling, it wasn’t in her voice.  In fact, she sounded, well, cautious.  Respectful.  I wasn’t expecting that.

“Frankly, Mr. Granger, I—-”

“Just Granger.”

“— I’ve been hearing different people’s accounts how you’ve helped them.  There’ve been seven I can recall offhand, and these are all men and women who impress me.  Anyone who could earn their praise would need to be themself an amazing person.  Every one of them agree you are that.  If you’re willing, I’d like to spend some time with you and better understand why you’re as effective as you are.”

I was quiet.  I’ve never done anything for anyone with being noticed in mind.  In fact, it bothered me any of the folks I’d encouraged and helped across the years would share their experiences with anyone, let alone a reporter.  To a greater or lesser degree, we’d worked our way through some heavy stuff.  Still were, off and on, in a few cases.  It wasn’t cheap tabloid material, and it made me uneasy to think any of it might be somehow compromised.

“Granger?”

“You’ve got me at a disadvantage, Glennis.  I’m surprised any of those with whom I’ve interacted would talk openly.  I didn’t reach this place of service in my life by being loose-lipped.  Therefore, I must decide what to do with all this.”  The newshound quietly admitted she’d been doggedly persuasive, saying she’d told them all she wanted was to honor me for years of unsung service.

“I never meant any offense, Granger.  I truly am focused on knowing more about the inner you, what makes you so effective.”

Stale Boston crème is underwhelming compared to a fresh one.  Nevertheless, a stale Boston crème is better than none at all.  Finishing the last bite and washing it down with now-lukewarm coffee, I spent a couple more seconds thinking through all this.  As I thought, I scanned again across some song lyrics I’d been writing and rearranging . . .

Well, you’re not supposed to worry

‘bout being in a hurry

To grow to be a BIG, BOLD SAINT

                            (The Bible says)

To just be good an’ steady

So you’re always good an’ ready

To be everything you AIN’T.

Now, Jesus is Who said it

And I know you’ve probably read it

That we’re all supposed to be GROWIN’

But when somebody dings ya

And their acid gossip wings ya,

Doin’ kind of lags behind the KNOWIN’.

Huh.  It was that gossip deal that got my attention.  I didn’t – don’t – want to be responsible for any of that.

I’d kept Glennis Witherspoon in suspenders long enough.

 

“Come by my office Monday morning at 8.  I’ll clear my schedule until noon.  You can enlighten me further at that time what you have in mind.”

Taken aback, Witherspoon stammered, “Well, I’m set up in my office with every means to record and videota—”

“You won’t be recording or videotaping anything.”

“—ping . . .  Why not?”

I told her everything – the entire interview – would be off the record.  I mentioned she’d said her purpose was to get to know more about me, and that she needed neither device for that.

“Besides, I want you to see my owl.”

“Your Ow—  WHAT?”

“See you Monday morning at 8, Glennis.  Bring donuts.  I like Boston Crèmes.”

Eagle Online staff later recalled seeing their ace reporter sitting still before her blank computer screen at 5:17 PM.  They all agreed they’d never known that to happen in the entire history of ever.

 

© D. Dean Boone, November 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Granger Story – 2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/20/18: THE GRANGER EFFECT

“Hey.”

The young sheriff’s deputy raised his eyes from the emails he’d been impatiently clearing off his phone.  “Hello, Glennis.”  He knew the reporter hadn’t just happened across him.  She never did.  He waited.

“I won’t insult you by saying I don’t mean to bother you.”

Sparks eyed her for a few long seconds.  It was what the guys at the station called his “coply stare”, and it was making even the jaded newshound a little uneasy.  Reporters weren’t in the only profession whose daily encounters caused distrust and made questioning motives a way of life.  “Would you care for a cup of coffee?  I need a refill.”  He stood, pulled out a chair from his table, and waited until she sat.  Considering herself at least liberated if not an avowed feminist, she knew Sparks was a true gentleman and would seat her, treating her like a lady whether she acted like one or not.  Fleetingly:  You know, being pampered a little isn’t all that bad…  Thanking him, she took the proffered chair.

“Actually, no.  I’m coffee’d out for awhile.”

Refilling his to-go cup, he walked back across the near-empty serving area of Howya Bean, a great little coffee shop he’d always enjoyed visiting when on break.

“What’s on your mind?”  The hard-edged, interrogative tone was chilly, caused her to look up at him.

The reporter hesitated and took a breath, transmitting to a cop’s eye she was edging into sensitive territory.

“You’re friends with Granger, right?”  He let her query lay there limp, like a windsock on a calm day.

“Where is this going?  If you know anything about Granger, you know he’s a very private man, personally and professionally.  He doesn’t talk, and no one counting him a friend does, either.”

“Well, I’m sure he—”  Sparks just kept talking, his words popping like the 124-grain Lawman hollowpoints he carried being fired downrange for qualification.

“His ability to actively listen while keeping his mouth shut is one of the things that makes him so unique and effective at what he does.” The brittle echoes of the deputy’s words slapped against Witherspoon’s hardened resolve, momentarily quieting her.  “No one he’s ever helped would intentionally compromise their relationship with him.  Once more:  where is this going?”

“I . . . I’ve heard things about him from snippets of conversations with those just like you’re talking about – people he’s helped.  If he’d be willing, I’d like to interview him and find out his perspectives about what he does and how he does it.”

The wind had died down again.  Though there were a few other conversations going on inside Howya Bean’s cheery, eclectic interior, it seemed there was a cylinder of dead air like a suspended moat around the table at which the two of them sat.

Sparks hesitated.  “There was a time I’d be rather abrupt.  I’m one of the thousands Granger’s helped across his career, and I’m considerate of him and his time.  Maybe even slightly jealous.   But one of the large things I’ve been learning from Granger is to never speak for someone able to speak for themselves.  It’s a fine-edged insult and I don’t have that right.  All I can tell you is this:  it’s an understatement to say I’m protective of my relationship with this man.  He’s easily the most simply complex, unforgettable person God’s ever brought across my path.  I will tell him of your request.  That’s all I’ll promise.  The rest is up to him.”

 

© D. Dean Boone, November 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | 2 Comments

A Granger 2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/18/18: LOADING . . .

“Oh.  Sorry.  Didn’t mean to barge in.”  Arlough said it in his usual staccato style as he barged in.

I sat quietly in one of my overstuffed, mismatched chairs, the faded brown one.  One never need assume with Arlough; he’s famous for getting to his point.  The challenge lies in keeping up with an agile mind usually operating somewhere around Warp 3.

“You weren’t answering your phone.”  Statements don’t always require a response.  I waited, warming my hands around the big, potbellied coffee mug with “BLESSINGS” stamped on it.

“You haven’t written yet this week.  There’s like six or seven people around the world who depend on your wit and wisdom, y’know.”  I tested my Ruta Maya Organic.  Ah.  Just right.  And at this time of day?  Sugar.  Caramel.  And cream.  Definitely cream.  In the afternoon, a little cream goes a long way.  I figured my friend’s mind had pulled up into a chandelle and was about ready to stall out.  He wasn’t used to flying this slow.

“And?”

“Well, I guess you—I was just—it just seemed weird that—”  Though my mercies, like God’s, aren’t always new every morning, I still try to be His hands and feet – and voice – when it will help.

“You’re wondering why I’m not up and operating at 4 AM, pumping out work on my several writing projects, which includes keeping my blog full of things to think about.  Why, instead of sitting over at my desk, fingers poised over my keyboard, I’m sitting over here with nothing but some great coffee, my writing pad and a pen.”

“Nowthatyoumentionit . . . ”  I know and value every close friend I have.  When Arlough’s normally-rapid speech patterns start gusting thirty or forty knots faster, I know he’s bugged.

     “I’ve been recharging.”

He sat processing what I’d just said.  Electrical engineers understand what a recharge does.  I could see he was troubled at how that fit with me.  “Arlough, I know I don’t have the stamina of a normal man – even one my age.  I don’t like to admit that, but it’s been a reality for me for 18 years.  Dealing with the dozen or so chronic issues that are part of my ‘Now’ is always a challenge, though doing so has become more or less commonplace.

“My biggest detriment is my pride.  I set out each morning the tasks I’d like to get done before day’s end.  I always make a great start, knowing my energy will quickly fade as the day moves on toward noon.  My risk/value assessment is always set too far on the risk side.  I know that.”

He could tell I was baring some facts from my private reserve few others ever knew.  “So what does that mean?”

“It means I can only go so many days trying to look and act normal before my battered body and mind won’t put up with my shenanigans, and quits on me.”  Arlough frowned.  Gesturing toward my coffee carafe, he got up and poured himself a cup to cover his obvious displeasure.

“I thought you knew better than to push yourself.”  The fine edge of equal parts alarm and disgust was strong in this one.

“I do.  And I love you for caring enough to check on me.  Knowing better does not excuse me from always testing my learning edge.  My physical boundaries.  One thing I told God I will not do is use my disability as an excuse to do nothing.  Therefore, I do what I can, learning in the process what things I need to stay away from, for I hate starting a project only to be forced to stop only a few hours later.”

” ‘Kay, so how do you know when you’ve smacked the wall, to use a NASCAR term?”

“General malaise.  Weakness, dehydration effects, such as slurring of words, stumbling, decreased peripheral vision, basically looking and acting drunk.  I suddenly run out of energy, and fast.”

My friend was quiet for a few moments, drinking coffee and thinking.

“You overdo it for everyone else, looking and acting like, uh, like a normal guy in public.  Then you go home or come here and crash for however long it takes.”  I admitted that though it was a bit more complicated than that, he basically had a pretty good grip on my daily life.

Draining his cup, he took it over to the small sink, rinsed it, and set it on the counter to dry.  He then did something I’d never known him to do.  Arlough walked over behind my chair, laid his hands on my shoulders, and prayed over me.  What he said will remain between us.  Yet his words were at once towering and tender, empassioned and empathic.

Finishing, he walked around in front of me.  “No, don’t get up.  You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing – in fact, something I need to seriously consider doing, myself.  I’m gonna barge back out, ‘kay?  But I need your word on something.”  This was an intense side of Arlough I rarely saw.  I raised my eyebrows and waited.

“Don’t ever let ten or twelve days go by without letting all seven of us who read after you know you’re okay, and just regrouping.  You don’t realize how much some people rely on your posts, and we’re still wanting to read the books you’re supposedly working on.  We admire you for being so willing to keep pushing yourself; but to lose you because you’re too danged bullheaded to take care of yourself?  That dog don’t hunt, and I’d hate ta hafta get Sparks and Raven Wing over here to righteously kick your insufferable butt!”

I sat quietly in one of my overstuffed, mismatched chairs, long minutes after the door had snicked shut.  Wiping tears, I drew in a large breath and said, “Granger, my friend?  You’ve been told!”

I agreed with myself, and we both voted another cup of afternoon java was in order.  After all, I knew Arlough loves me.  He knows good and well there are at least eight readers . . .

Now, where’d I stow that half-and-half?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/8/18: WHAT IF WE MADE “BEING GRATEFUL” JOB 1?

Happy people focus on what they have, and unhappy people focus on what’s missing.  Attitude makes the difference.

I was sipping some great Costa Rica dark roast while culling countless memes for the few worth keeping.  Writers collect such.  I’ve been known to save a picture from someone’s email or a meme, and have it mysteriously morph into an entire story line . . . I digress.

As I scrolled, this popped up.

On a sticky note, someone had written, “What if you woke up this morning having only those things you told God ‘Thank you’ for yesterday?”

That brought me up short and I began to think.

Seriously.  I sat back, took another sip or two of java, and began to retrace my gratitude of yesterday.

Yesterday, October 7, 2018, I thanked God for

  • the gift of a fresh, new 24 hours of living.
  • my breakfast, the privilege to be able to eat it, and the ongoing miracle of my tiny remaining piece of small gut to absorb enough nutrients to keep me functioning without any medical assistance – defying all prognoses of medical professionals saying it’s impossible for me to live.
  • the blessing of my career shift into pastoral ministry, which led to residency and irreplaceable years of service as a hospital chaplain, giving me both experience and tools with which to serve others now in specialized ways.
  • knowing how to treat the repetitive bouts with the physical challenges of my ‘Now’ without hospitalization.
  • the gift of an unforgettable wife, an understanding family, and a few close friends who know enough of my journey since Spring of 1997 that I need not explain when I’m feeling rough and need rest.
  • the blessing of being gifted to do what I’m doing right now:  to write encouragement and champion personal and spiritual excellence to into your lives.
  • You.  If there were no readers, there’d be no blog, no forthcoming books.  Since a day rarely passes without me doing some sort of writing, it’s also a rare day I don’t think about and pray about you.
  • the further anticipated blessings of a good income from my writing, which will help me be independent regardless of what lies ahead of me.
  • the toughness and gritty reality of my life experience thus far; it’s steeled me to face things God’s led me through I’d likely never have otherwise survived.

 

There were other gratitudinous items tossed in.  I’m always appreciative – often vocally so – of each morning’s first several cups of wonderful black, steaming, fragrant coffee.  Every time I hear a siren or series of sirens, I thank God for those trained to give that aid, praying over them and those they’re rushing to help.

There are more, but you get the point.  I tend to live a life of gratitude.

I’ve met nobody who likes life’s hard places; I watched my parents weather their share, and wasn’t looking forward to any such encounters.  Yet tough situations create strong people.

I grew up strong, muscular and willing to work hard.  Prior to my physical Waterloo, I was a solid six feet tall, weighing in at 250.  Now?  five feet, ten inches (if I stretch), and I eat almost constantly to maintain a svelte, skinny-butted 170.

In spite of all that, I’m a strong people.  Stronger and tougher than ever.  I wouldn’t have been as strong, had God not customized and personalized some things laid out before me I wasn’t sure at the time I’d survive.  Whether matters of heart, mind, or body, they weren’t intended to be subtle.

They hurt.

Because they hurt, I’m a bigger, tougher, stronger man, husband, and dad – and a more useful friend.

Therefore, I’m most thankful for that last item.  It is making me more of the man God’s had in mind to make of me.

 

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 3 October 2018 – COFFEEOLOGY #5: TAKE TIME TO STOP & SMELL THE COFFEE

It’s possible to spend so much time comparing your perceived lack with others’ perceived luxury your own blessings are lost on you.

God’s blessings are a luxury to you.  You’re so used to them they don’t seem like it.  They sometimes show up on your spirit’s doorstep costumed like just another gaggle of neighborhood challenges, holding their bags out.  This creates a negative-tinged attitude that, if unchecked, colors your entire day.

How to keep that from happening?  Slow down.  Back away from the intensity with which you’re making your TO-DO list become your TA-DAHHHH! list in the shortest amount of time.

Three employees of the same company happened to be seated at the same table while eating their lunch.  Two were in an animated discussion over their best elapsed times getting to work.  One said, “Man, I shaved 6 more seconds off my all-time best by coming this different route!  I’m jazzed!”  He nodded as his companion admired him with a well-modulated “Dude.”  Glancing at his iPhone, the first one suddenly jumped up, wrapping the last couple of bites up and bolting.  “Gotta get back to it!” wafted back over the shoulder of his drab-green hoodie.

The companion glanced over at their lunch buddy, a Chinese man who’d been silent throughout the others’ spirited competitiveness.  “Not bad, huh?  A whole 6 seconds?”

The quiet man finished chewing his food, sipped some iced tea and swallowed, clearing his throat.  “And what significant thing shall we do with those added 6 seconds?”

Hurrying becomes a habit.

Schooling oneself to stobbut is a good one with which to replace it.

Often, the result is that you actually get as much accomplished while relaxed as you would have otherwise.  The difference is that the former is relatively stress-free, while the latter only seems to generate more.

This is an intentional thing.  You must stop and smell the coffee on purpose.  We’ve stamped our normal way of life with the imprimatur of accelerated heart rates and ulcers.  This is a dumb way to live.

To take or make time to STOP & SMELL THE COFFEE . . .

~ Stand up straight, stretch, and take a few deep breaths.

~ Think through what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and if it’s necessary.

~ If necessary, ask yourself if there’s another, more pleasant way to make it happen.

~ If unnecessary, stop.  Be unordinary.  Resist the urge to fill that space with an equally stressful task.

~ Call a friend.  Chances are they can use the break, too.  And, yes.  Have coffee.

~ Take a walk.  Greet all with a gentle smile.  Read a chapter.  Read another one.

~ Whatever relaxes you, do that.

The more you love someone else, the easier it is to defer to their likes and dislikes.  Soon, you catch yourself ‘relaxing’ by doing their favorite things, not yours.  This generates more stress, though subtle.  You have permission to do your favorite relaxing things.  Be honest about what they are, especially if those you love don’t see anything relaxing in your choices.  Let them enjoy theirs.  You enjoy yours.  This is restful for you both.  You might even find mutual satisfaction in the differentness.  This is especially true if you have little in common.

I find value in this, and rarely suggest something I myself have not done.  These posts generally publish on Mondays.  This, you’ve noted, is Thursday.  I am an Intuitive as well as a recovering perfectionist, with a dash of OCD tossed in for flavor.  To not get this done Monday defies my sense of order.

I waited until this morning to finish this because I’ve been doing the very things I just suggested to you.  Part of my ‘Now’ includes periodic dehydration, which takes days to treat.  I don’t do my best writing when dealing with that.

So I stopped.  I’m more relaxed now, and upon re-engaging this post this morning, I promptly scrapped part of what I’d been trying to force through my tired, confused brain.  It’s my wish the wait’s been worth it for you.

And thus endeth COFFEEOLOGY.

 

Coffee?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Saturday 2nd Cup, 9/29/18: THE BREAD IN THE PLAIN WRAPPER

I have a rule.  If you have to wear a ridiculous, garish costume and yell at me, I have zero interest in your product.

We’ve all known people who overdress while underperforming.  Some are ‘faking it until they make it’.  Some are talented, but trying to ‘make it’ in an area not suited for them.  And some have watched others get by that way, and decided to copy looking like something special instead of becoming something special.

When breakfast came, the wheat bread came with it.  Unassuming.  Just bread.  It accompanied corned beef hash and eggs which was colorful, tastefully presented, and mouthwateringly fragrant.  Just bread, one of the two sides.

Peach jelly, naturally.  I’ve always loved peaches in most any form.  I noticed the texture of the bread as I spread the jelly, so I took a big bite.  Then I took another.  Couldn’t help myself, and was hoping I didn’t get violently ill since I hadn’t yet asked the blessing.  I sat there staring at the remainder of that half-slice.  It was good.

“Everything taste all right?”

“Oh, yeah!  This bread – can you tell me where you get it?”  She could not; she didn’t know.

“It comes on the resupply truck with everything else.”

“I’d like to find out if possible because it’s—”  She interrupted me, saying she, too, loved the taste and texture of that wheat bread.  “But I’ve looked.  All our other breads are labeled.  Not this.  It comes in a clear, plain wrapper so there’s no way of knowing who made it or where we got it.  But I know it’s great bread, and I love it!”

It took me a few seconds, thoughtfully chewing and sipping the rich, hot coffee, for the application to begin scrolling…

  • Jesus:  “I AM the Bread of life.”  He, too, came in a plain wrapper.  So plain, in fact, that Isaiah prophetically said there’d be – was – nothing outstanding or noticeable about His wrapper.  But the living Bread inside?  No one ever encountering Him went away the same.

You’ve been dazzled by some fantastic packaging.  Bamboozled by bluster.  Snookered by smooooooth into spending good money, giving support, or even surrendering your love for an inferior product or service.

Here’s the sad part.  If a sorry product, you won’t ever again buy it, nor trust the one pawning it off on you.  That’s not all.  That person’s entire company will now be suspect in your eyes.  The same principle holds true for your supporting  a cause, or giving your heart to another.  If the glitzy wrapper promised more than what was inside had to offer, you’ll not be as willing to support any other cause.  And in the matter of giving your heart?  Those wounds heal slowly.  You may never totally trust your love to another again.

All because of great packaging that never delivered.

Far better it is to live in a “plain” wrapper.  Be content to be transparent, letting all around you see Christ through you.

Make sure what’s inside your wrapper makes anything on it – or not – unimportant because what’s inside is so wonderful.  Let your daily living do all the advertising.  It won’t be hard for those around you to know Who’s responsible for the texture and taste, if you will, of the real person inside your wrapper.

That bread is nothing short of amazing.  As a side, it really sets off any dish with which it’s partnered.

Be like that bread.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Granger Story ~ 2nd Cup of Coffee for 9/24/18: COFFEEOLOGY #4 ~ TAKE LIFE 1 CUP AT A TIME

The most favorite coffee mug you own, even brim-full, still only holds a single cup.

I sat watching the sentence.  It didn’t try to escape the page of the writing pad.  It never even moved.  I thoughtfully sipped from my big moss-green THANKFUL mug, as I mentally rearranged the words yet again, wondering as all writers do if there’s a more effective way to say it.

Probably is.  I knew first drafts of anything can always be improved.  I knew if I kept refining it the sentence would really pop in a reader’s mind.  I knew my freshly-poured cup of joe was setting there getting cold.

Will it be more meaningful after the seventh change?

Probably not.  After four or five rewrites, an experienced writer has likely squoze out of that word combo everything usable.

I sat back, musing.

 

Fall had officially arrived on the calendar; yet it had begun weeks before in my heart.  I’d been up as usual, showering and dressing before much of the rest of the world was awake.  These crisp Fall mornings, though, gave me all the excuse I needed.  Time to break out the faded Lee Premiums and tails-out soft flannel shirts with sleeves at half-roll.  This morning’s is a gray/white/barn-red plaid.  And the minute I sat down at my desk, my shoes came off.  Is there anything that’s more satisfying and comfortable this time of year than broke-in jeans, butter-soft flannel shirts, and sock feet?

I’ve always loved the Fall and Winter seasons, enjoying from my very core the shifting palette of Creation’s colors.  Decorations, even lights begin to emerge in homes, yards, and in businesses.  My nose perks up at the scent of late summer hotdogs and burgers being slowly overlaid with the comforting, reassuring headiness of fireplaces extending smoky hands up in praise of Autumn’s unparalleled and breathtaking beauty.

 

I went over to the coffeemaker and refilled my cup.  Halfway back, I reversed course and added cream and sugar.  Huh.  Must’ve been thinking about an old friend who used to chide me about doing that.  Stirring it well, I popped it in the microwave to reheat it.  I’m aware snooty Starbuck’s types are horrified at such, but I never waste good coffee.  And this ain’t Starbuck’s.  My present cup’s been known to say a dismissive “Haddy” to the one forgotten in the ‘wave.

Seated again, I revisited the sentence:


The most favorite coffee mug you own, even brim-full, still only holds a single cup.


I’d been spending five weeks embellishing a set of sayings entitled, COFFEEOLOGY.  This week’s was number four, Take Life One Cup At A Time.  I’d been thinking about what that means and what it looks like in my mirror.  What does it mean to take life one cu—

Oh, happih–day-yay!  Oh, happeh–day . . . Woah, happih–DAY-hay!  Oh, happeh–daaay . . .”  It took me a few seconds to sift through my phone’s ringtones I’d set for friends who rated one.  Not all do.  You get that.  Let’s see…

Trixie.  Jimmie’s Diner.  I picked my phone up and clicked it on as I was being taught how to watch and pray.

“I remember when phones just rang, and we actually had to get up and go to wherever they were.  How are you, Trixie?  Are you living rejoicing every day?”

There was a split second of that kind of shocked silence, then her throaty contralto laugh boomed across my phone’s tiny speaker.  I mean it tried to.  Smart phones don’t exactly ‘boom’, do they?  I figured she’d be amused.  I’m an amusing guy.  I even autoamuse from time to time.  Who needs an audience when one is this hilarious?

“Granger, this is why I love havin’ ya’ll around.  You always got somethin’ encouragin’ ta tayull somebodeh.”

Trixie isn’t her real name.  Jimmie’s is a 50’s theme diner where the women servers wear poodle skirts, bobby socks, big hair and scarves; and the men wear black slacks, white shirts, black bowties, and soda jerk hats.  Each franchise has the same collection of names, so this ‘Trixie’ or ‘Bobbie Sue’ won’t be the same person across the city.  And though Trixie right now sounds like the daughter of a hard-working black mechanic and school teacher, this ‘Trixie’ has earned degrees and a fearless demeanor that cows wolverines.  She rarely calls me, so I waited.  I’m good at that.

I’m good at that, too.  Waiting and listening . . .

“Listen, Granger, I’m on break, so I’ll get to it.  When somebody feels like they got to end a relationship, why does one or the other feel like they got to come up with a reason to hate the one they’re cutting loose to justify it?”

I knew my silence as I absorbed her question wouldn’t bother her.  We’d sat and talked before.  She knew my habit when listening is to think it through and only then probe with questions to further clarify.  I sat brooding over my java for a few more seconds.

“If I’m getting you, you want to know why it feels necessary to create dislike, gossip, or hatred in order to make breaking up feel better.”  She said yes.

“The only reason I’ve been able to think of is they want to recruit supporters or a cheering section, if you will, to boost their decision in their own eyes.  If it’s possible to blacken the reputation of their former friend, then it makes the other former partner feel righteous in their choice.”

Trixie (slower and softer):  “What if there’s nothing to hate?  You’ve seen this explosion of pop-psych on Facebook that’s always sayin’ stuff like IF THEY DON’T SEE YOUR TRUE WORTH, UNLOAD THEM AND WALK AWAY.  THEY AREN’T WORTH YOUR TIME.  You’ve seen those, right?”  Suddenly it triggered in my spirit.

“Trixie, this isn’t hypothetical, is it?”  I could hear her trying to keep from breaking down.

“No.  You want to know what I hate?  I HATE those STUPID memes, because they don’t speak for me at all.  The only ones that do are those that talk about YOU KNOW IT’S REAL LOVE WHEN ALL YOU WANT IS FOR THE OTHER ONE TO BE HAPPY AND FULFILLED IN LIFE, EVEN IF THAT MEANS WITH SOMEONE ELSE.”

“That where you are?”  She said it is.  I asked her if she still read after me, and she indicated she does – and even poked me again for not being faster with the books I’m working on.

“Okay.  Listen, when you called, I’d been sitting and wondering how to apply today’s little bit of Coffeeology.  You just gave me a great prompt.  Let me get back to that so you can read it on your next break.  In the meantime, let me give you the title:  TAKE LIFE ONE CUP AT A TIME.  Do you mind waiting to read my response?”

She said that worked for her, that she needed to get back on the clock, but would be thinking about what I’d said, and what the title implies.  I had no doubt she would.

Here, then, are my thoughts in response to Trixie’s call, using COFFEEOLOGY:  TAKE LIFE 1 CUP AT A TIME as a springboard.

You’d look a little silly drinking out of two cups of coffee at the same time.  The same is true about holding a deep, abiding love for two people at the same time.

Human relationships can survive anything up to and sometimes including rejection and loss of trust, although the latter creates very real permanent scars that never quite heal.  Whether we’re talking about a strong, decades-long friendship, or a profound, longstanding love, both can and have survived even when dealing with physical distance and the general busyness and business of daily living.

Certainly, if one or the other has consciously damaged that relationship, there’s ample reason for you to sever it in anger and sorrow, and walk away.  There are always plenty of people sitting on the sidelines who’ll fill your ears with anything you want to hear about how lousy ‘they’ are, and how right you are in getting away from them.

And what about that relationship where you both knew it was realer than real (thank you, Dr. Seuss) and truer than true, but came to a realization God had different things in mind?  I began freewriting as I pondered this.

 

“Ever had God plunk someone you believed lost to you right before you and relight your pilot?  To learn you, confide in you and stick by you in a way no other has?  Has God brought you close, closer, closest ~ and then have them removed from your life as if never there?  Sometimes it crushes to the point you just erase all messages, delete all numbers, square your shoulders, and move on.  But that doesn’t work.  Your mind will play tricks like, “Well, maybe it’s just that the timing’s not right, right now.”

 

“Others crowd around, congratulating you with things like, “He/she never was right for you, anyway.”  You know the drill.  Those kind are always around, always gleeful to tear someone else down – yet never realizing how much that person meant to you.  Hating them – manufacturing a reason to push them away – is not your only option.  In fact, if you’re a Christian, you might want to pay attention to this.

 

“You don’t have to forget who and what that person was to you.  You can’t.  If there was love involved, and mutual esteem?  If you shared in faith and helped build one another’s personal walk with God?  Terrific!  Celebrate it, don’t hate it.  Consider how you both grew through all that.  Maybe this wasn’t primarily about you; but God was using you to do something vital in their life ~ to help them punch on through some life experiences that had gotten them stuck.  Believe it or not, they’ll never forget who you were to them, either.  Yet you must accept they aren’t that person to you any more.  What you thought was God’s hand at work in both your lives most certainly was, but not in the ways you thought.  What you believed to be a ‘forever’ thing was not.  God knew they needed someone unique and personally special to come alongside them, giving them the time, the nonjudgmental ear, and the unconditional love to help them get beyond what had happened to them.

 

“He brought them you.  You gave it and them your best.  Now they’ve healed and have moved on with their life.  Noble?  Tragic?  Only if you let it get you stuck there.  God needed someone He could trust to strengthen, listen to, and care for them without reservation or demands, and He chose you.  You bet it hurts.  Stings like fire.  That’s why God can’t trust just anybody with that kind of mission.  That’s why the two suggestions I’ll offer you help.  Few have the grit in their spirit to handle this without sulking and losing spiritual ground.

 

“Do you remember Jesus saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you”?  Physically, He did.  Yet we all know what it’s like, when feeling so alone, to have the warmth of His grace lovingly laid in your soul’s lap like a half-grown kitten.  We all know while Jesus physically is no longer here, His Presence, and His powerful, undeniable love has gone nowhere.  I think a better meme to think about is the one which reads, “Never leave someone who touches your soul more than your body.”

 

“I suggest two things to help you not merely survive the loss of someone that special to you, but to overcome and thrive because of sharing their love, enduring friendship and support.  First, you’ll both need to gently, lovingly lay those shared experiences to rest in God’s arms, then walk on into His newest adventure for you both.  Next, pursue the things you love doing, for God placed that in your heart.  Do them so well that people can’t help but notice you and see Him at work in and through you.

 

“This way, every time you remember that special person, whether a month, a year, or a decade later, your heart will flood with great memories of him or her; and your spirit will be buoyant with prayerful and loving care toward them.  That, I believe, is most pleasing to God in any relationship.  The Adversary is into discord and hatred.  God is The Champion of Love.”

 

In other words, do your moving on with faith-filled, forward-seeing purpose.  Find the niche God’s uniquely formed just for you ~ and get after it.  To follow our title, empty that cup, rinse it out, and then let God fill it with a brand-new, fresh cup full of His grace.

To all the Trixies out there?  I pray this helps.  I pray you keep growing through whatever loss you’re experiencing, turning it into fantastic gain.  And I’ll be praying for God to fill your rinsed-out cup to overflowing with everything He’s been waiting to serve you.

So.  There you go:  Coffeeology #4: Take Life 1 Cup At A Time.

Loving you,

Dan

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments